“Everything at Buffalo State led me to where I am today,” said Tara Lyons, ‘07, program manager at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society (BECHS).
Lyons knew two things before coming to Buffalo State: she was creative and she wanted to study abroad. While attending Hutchinson Central Technical High School and concentrating in biochemistry, Lyons heard about Buffalo State’s Siena Program, SUNY’s oldest study-abroad adventure. After comparing the cost of dorming at Fredonia State or commuting to Buffalo State and traveling to Siena, Lyons decided to attend Buffalo State and pursue her dream of studying abroad.
Choosing art history as her major—“the perfect blend of science, creativity, and my interests” —Lyons embraced the art world with a vengeance. She interned at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, BECHS, the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, before being hired full-time at BECHS.
“Working at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection really affected getting my job at BECHS,” said Lyons. “It’s such a rare, amazing opportunity and I was able to bring what I learned in Italy back to Buffalo.”
Her interest in art and her ambitious attitude are evident in her role at BECHS, where Lyons creates programs for youth, families, young professionals, and adults at the museum. She is in charge of scheduling and giving tours of the museum, as well as curating and researching exhibits.
Lyons has curated two large exhibits recently, both showcased in the Community Gallery. The first, Buffalo Through Their Eyes, a photography and artifacts exhibit, documented how five adult refugees perceived Buffalo. The current exhibit, a collaboration with Autistic Services, is a collection of watercolor paintings created by James Marino. Both exhibits will travel to Buffalo State this year.
“It’s good that these exhibits can have a second life,” said Lyons. “It continues the dialogue.”
Lyons is working on creating a museum introduction program for refugees in the Buffalo area, consisting of showing them the area’s important institutions, helping them write their histories, and making them feel like a part of the community. She will be presenting her refugee work at the 2012 American Association of Museums Conference in Minneapolis.
“New and different people are changing the community, and the museum has a responsibility to document their lives,” said Lyons. “With the refugee exhibit, it educates the community on who is here. They’re feeding our population with new stores and restaurants; their kids go to our schools. They’re part of Buffalo’s ongoing story—we should know what it’s like for them.”
Lyons is considering Buffalo State’s museum studies graduate program and continuing her education with a master’s degree in something broad, like arts management.
“I don’t want to tie myself down to one specific kind of institution or industry,” said Lyons. “Art means so many things and I would hate to limit myself.”